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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Death · #2061025
My tribute to the victims of school violence
11:27 am

Ms. George, my history teacher, kept droning on and on about school shootings. We need to see the signs, and we would have to evacuate, yaddah-yaddah-yaddah. She just won’t shut up, so I turn to my close friends and my twin brother, John. I make quacking gestures with my hands. Womp womp womp womp womp womp. I don’t need to know about these school shootings, nothing like that would ever happen to me. I live in Washington D.C.! No one is going to target Hamilton High School, not when there’s a white house not too far away.
“Janette,” Ms. George prompts, startling me out of my daydream. “Pay attention.”
I roll my eyes and stick my tongue out at my brother’s girlfriend, and my close friend, Anna. It was annoying, the way she flitted from guy to guy, and all of them want her. After all, she dated this loser on a dare, dumped him brutally, and went out with four guys, including John, in the week it’s been. In all honesty, she’s kind of a whore. But when you get down to the nitty gritty, she’s a sweet girl, honest, and kind. I glance up at the clock to see how much longer I’m stuck here, and make out the time. 11:27.

11:28 am

Someone knocks on the door, startling Ms. George out of her lecture. She opens the door, and gets shoved down. A boy, in my homeroom with Ms. George. Matthew Donnavon, if I remember correctly. Holding a gun, followed by a boy and a girl, armed with guns, who I don’t know.
“ALL OF YOU! AGAINST THE WALL!” Matthew yells, kicking at Ms. George on the floor. “You too,” he spits, with venom in his voice.
He sees Anna, and smiles, and pulls her away, while I fish in my backpack for my phone. I dial 9-1-1 and mute the call. My phone won’t let me hear them, but they can hear everything. I murmur about how I can’t believe Matthew is going to hurt Ms. George, and us, at Hamilton High. I drop my phone to the floor, sending a silent prayer. The boy stations himself by our door, locking it. The girl Makes sure we don’t move.
“Oh, Anna, quite the social butterfly, aren’t you,” Matthew says, pushing her head to the side with the barrel of a gun. “Dating me on a dare, dumping me by having the cheer squad do it at the football game, that’s cold.”
He shoots her, blood painting the walls. I scream, so do a whole bunch of other people. We’re scared, now, I’m scared, now. I turn into John’s arm, hiding away the sight of my best friend, dead on the floor. Matthew points to people, and the girl pulls them forward, keeping them in another straight line at gunpoint. John is yanked away from me too. I call his name, he shakes his head.

11:29 am

“Here’s how this works. I’ll state your crime, and I’ll give you a sentence. Shoulder, kneecap or head. It’ll be carried out.” He stops at the first girl. “Deedee. Cheating off me in math class, not good. I’ll let you off easy. Shoulder.” Bang! A scream. “Ingrid. You’re a real special popular girl, aren’t you? Cheer’s your whole life, isn’t it?”
“Please don’t hurt me,” she whimpers, and Matthew laughs.
“Wouldn’t it be a shame if something were to… happen? Kneecap.” Another scream, splitting my ears as Ingrid collapses to the ground.
Brandon gets both of his knees shot out, and Ella and Fiona get twin bullets to the shoulder. Most of us are covering our heads and rocking back and forth in fear, terrified, and Sarah, the quietest girl in our class, bows her head and folds her hands, and looks like she’s praying.

11:30 am

“And dear old Thomas,” Matthew says, glancing at the man before him. “I’m not gonna tell our friends here what you’ve done to me, they can wonder, but death to you.”
Sarah bolts from her sitting position, and with surprise on her side, wrestles with Matthew for the gun, screaming about how wrong this is, but Matthew wins. He kicks her down, and steps on her like a step stool while she wheezes. He fires round after round, twenty three in all, buried in her chest. The boy guarding the door watches Matthew, and waits for him to shoot Thomas.
“Any other heroes? Step up now.”

11:31 am

As Matthew goes, and more blood drenches the floor, my anxiety builds, because at the end of the line, is John, twitching in nerves and fear. Ms. George stands up, finally, and collects herself.
“Matthew, please hand me the gun, and ask your friends to give me theirs. A lot of people have gotten hurt, let’s stop this.”
The girl crony sets down her gun and kicks it to the wall of the classroom, far away from any of us. “She’s right, Matthew, we need to stop. You said you wanted to teach them a lesson, hurt them, not kill them.”
“Betrayal.” He shoots the girl with spectacular aim, followed quickly by Ms. George. “Now, John, John, John. Captain of the football team, but not a mean guy. When you saw me getting bullied, you stepped in and help. You’re a good man,” Matthew says, swinging his gun around. “But you see, I know your secret.” John pales. What secret? “Everyone, John here, mister homophobe number one, happens to have himself a nice boyfriend. A weaseling, rapist, boyfriend, actually, but we’ve taken care of him. Thomas will not be missed. And neither will you."

11:32 am

“STOP!” I yell flinging myself in front of John. “STOP! He didn’t do anything wrong but be gay, and that’s not wrong!”
“What did we say about heroes?” Matthew chastises, and grabs my arm with a piercing grip. I scream, at the top of my lungs, and watch in slow motion as John collapses to the floor, dead. “You didn’t learn from Sarah, Janette. I would’ve loved to spare you, hell, I would’ve let you kill one of your mean classmates, I mean, you were always so nice to me. But not anymore.”
Blinding pain blooms over my chest, and I realize I’m not dead. I have to pretend to be. I have to play possum. It won’t be hard, as I’m barely conscious.
“None of you dumbasses noticed, did you? My dad’s dead now, the abusive bastard. I was ridiculed, hated, excluded, mocked, and all for what? Your entertainment? Isn’t this funny?” Matthew laughs, and from the bang and nearby gurgling, he shot his other accomplice. “When I was in trouble, none of you gave a shit. And you know what? Now you’re all in trouble, and it’s my pleasure.”

11:33 am

“Matthew Donavon? It’s the police, open up; we need you to let out those kids.”
“Son of a gun. Which one of you called the cops?” A rustle and footsteps. The clicking sound of a phone disconnecting a call. “Whoever tells me whose this is, can leave, only if it’s not theirs.”
“It was Janette’s.” Claire’s voice.
Betrayal stabs at my gut. More white hot pain flares in my legs, where Matthew must have ragingly shot me again. “MATTHEW DONAVON! Please, release the kids.”
Matthew laughs again, eerily as always. “I’m sending out one of them, a traitorous 'lady' named Claire.
“That’s a good start, Matthew. Can we come in there and get the rest of them?”
“Not while I’m alive!” Matthew screams, and shoots himself, the gunshot echoing in our silent room.

11:34 am

Police knock down the door, and I fight to lift my head, amidst the gasps of those who thought I was dead. Colors and people blur, swirling while paramedics flood the room, police caution off confirmed dead and evidence piles. My shocked classmates being ushered out of the room, while someone bows down to look at me.
“Hi, sweetie, can you tell me your name?”
“Janette Marie Smith,” I garble, my limbs not obeying me. “What time is it?” I mumble in my disorientation.
“It’s 11:34. Now, we need to get you to a hospital.”
Only six minutes? I guess a lot can happen in six minutes. A car crash. Someone winning the lottery. A house getting burned down. A ‘you may now kiss the bride’. My mind falls in welling waves of confusion and pain. Of black and white and all number of shades of grey. I don’t want to die, but come to think of it, that doesn’t sound so bad right now, with the comfortable stretcher I’m on.
“We’re losing her, commence CPR!”
Pounding on my chest, to match my head, and my artificial heartbeat as I scream, not sure whether inside my head or out. Red blood.
John Anna Thomas Sarah and two people I don’t know. Maybe me. I guess that’s what we get for not paying attention to Matthew Donavon.
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